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Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests
Photos and RealAudio of 2 February
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2 February:

On the third day of IFF-4, delegates met in Working Group 1 to discuss underlying causes of deforestation and traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK). Delegates also convened in contact groups to discuss transfer of ESTs, finance, and trade and environment.

Working Group 1: Underlying Causes of Deforestation
<< NIGERIA, speaking for the G-77/CHINA, underscored that developing countries are particularly affected by deforestation due to their lack of financial and technological resources and capacity.


NORWAY was among the many to support lifting brackets from a paragraph inviting countries to work with international financial institutions to establish transparency regarding structural adjustment policies (SAPs) and to harmonize SAPs with national sustainable development objectives >>
<< On undervaluation of forests as an underlying cause, the US suggested the text include cross-reference to the programme elements on valuation of goods and services and economic instruments >> 
Delegates met informally on the floor and redrafted text to include an explicit cross-reference to the IFF program element, as per the US proposal. >>
<< COLOMBIA called to delete reference to corruption as an underlying cause.

Side-event: Global Forest Information Service
At a side event on forest research and information systems, Brad Smith of the US Department of Agriculture delivered a report on the achievements of the Global Forest Information Service (GFIS) task force. He explained that GFIS generates data through inventories and forest valuation, serves as a clearinghouse for information, improves communication between users and providers of information, and seeks to harmonize standards and measurements in data collection. The task force enjoys stable funding and endeavours to create a "one-stop shop" for forest information on the web. For more information: http://iufro.boku.ac.at/iufro/taskforce/hptfgfis.htm

Side-event: Definition of Low Forest Cover
H. Gyde Lund (gklund@worldnet.att.net)from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations presented results from a study on the definition of low forest cover (LFC). He dwelled on the multitude of possible definitions based on various measures such as ratio of forest to total land, ratio of open forest to closed forest, forest area per capita, and the purpose of classification. Various discussants agreed that defining LFC is an enormous challenge due to the difficulty of defining forests per se. They noted the wide discrepancy among national and international definitions of forests that could be based on forest size, density, or height, and that lead to very dissimilar classifications of land areas. The report is available at http://home.att.net/~gklund/LFCreport.html

In the corridors: 

The selection of a chair for the contact group on Category III appears to be creating some intrigue. Finding someone who fits the criteria of being "neutral," "a go-getter" and "from a developing country" is proving to be somewhat difficult.

The trade and environment discussions appear to be exasperating a number of delegates, with one questioning how any conclusion can be reached in this meeting when WTO officials failed to come to an agreement in Seattle.

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